“Growth is a spiral process. Doubling back on itself, reassessing and regrouping.” —Julia Margaret Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way
“Life is a journey up a spiral staircase; as we grow older we cover the ground we have covered before, only higher up; as we look down the winding stair below us we measure our progress by the number of places where we were but no longer are. The journey is both repetitious and progressive, we go both round and upward.” —William Butler Yeats
I remember when I first decided I wanted to change. I had a destination in mind, and that destination was called, Best-Self. I didn’t really know what the path to Best-Self looked like, but I think I rather imagined that once I pushed the Best-Self button, I’d be off and running in a straight shot to the top (Best-Self was always up). I wasn’t completely clueless about Best-Self. I had a list of things that needed to change in order to get to my final destination. I needed to react less and respond more, I needed to stop lying about my feelings, I needed to stop being a coward in relationships, I needed to be less dependent and attached. I figured that once I tackled these, one after the other, I’d get to Best-Self. I would be calm, honest, brave and independent (among other glorious things).
As I walked this path, committed to the idea of achieving Best-Self, I began to have a sad realization: Every time I thought I had fixed one of my issues, it would pop up in a new disguise. For example, when I thought I had the hang of independence, I came into contact with a person, who, through no fault of their own, brought up all sorts of emotions in me. Before I knew it, I was wrapped up in a dependence cycle again – a cycle that looked just different enough to trick me for a moment before I caught it.
Wait! What? Did I fall down the elevator shaft? I thought I had. I told myself, at least the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd time that it happened, that I hadn’t made any progress at all. That all the work I’d done was for naught. Woe, Woe is me.
But that wasn’t the truth. The first truth I learned was this: The road to growth, change, and healing is a spiral. We move round and round and round, and the lessons we need to learn keep coming around again. It’s not that we have lost the lessons that we’ve learned, or ceased to grow, or worse – fallen all the way back to the beginning. The biggest lessons that we have in this life keep coming back until we have learned them. There is no straight shot to the top. There is no elevator and no button.
Here’s the good news that took a bit longer for me to figure out. There Is. No. Top. Best-Self is not a destination to be reached at all. It’s not at the top of the building. Best-Self is a choice we get to make in every single moment of our life. It doesn’t mean our issues are gone or fixed. One of those issues may come around and bite us on the face, because it’s wearing a Halloween costume that we were completely unprepared for, and we get to choose to be our Best-Self right there and then.
The more we choose Best-Self, the more Best-Self becomes our Reality. The lessons keep coming. Our issues might keep popping up giving us more opportunities to practice our Best-Self moves. New issues will pop up too. Awesome. More Best-Self time.
Honestly, it’s the coolest thing ever. There is no Top. There is no Penthouse. Best-Self is not a destination. It’s a moment to moment choice.
The original article, published on November 12, 2018 at OndHealingandCoaching.com, has been edited by the author, Tara Moorman, for publication on this website.
Dr. Allaire received his Bachelors of Science in Biology from the University of Houston, as Valedictorian of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and his Medical Doctorate from Baylor College of Medicine, where he served as Chief Resident. He is the medical monitor for the Physician Counseling Committee of the Harris County Medical Society and the Medical Director of Serenity House Detox. Dr. Allaire specializes in medically assisted detox cases, treating patients in recovery from addiction or other mental health disorders, the medical assessment and monitoring of patients with addictive disorders, medical care related to eating disorders and the medical treatment of patients with mental health conditions.